This Advent, pray boldly
December 14, 2021
This article is the first in a five-part series on prayer, particularly for Advent, from Father Michael Voithofer, pastor of St. Benedict the Moor Parish in Omaha and leader of two prayer ministries: Ablaze Worship Ministry and a local campus of Encounter School of Ministry. Look for further teachings to be posted over the next several days.
God has more for you.
You just need to ask, says Father Michael Voithofer.
And now – as Christmas, the season of gift-giving approaches – might be the perfect time to ask for whatever is on your spiritual wish list.
First off, he says, be bold, and bold prayer often means specific prayer.
“I think sometimes we’re afraid to ask God more poignant, specific questions,” he said, because the Lord might not answer the way you might expect.
But the pastor guarantees you won’t be disappointed, because God’s ways are always better.
Bold requests that Father Voithofer recommends: “Lord, help me to start to humble myself and let you be more a part of my life, in my home, in my marriage, in my family.”
According to Father Voithofer: “Asking boldly means ‘Lord, give me your love for this family member whom I’m really having a hard time with,’ or ‘Give me your love for my spouse.’” he said.
If we ask, the Lord will guide us in the healing of relationships, he said.
“So let’s say there’s a tension in your family or marriage – and this is a real thing for everyone.
“Let’s say you’re going to a family gathering and there’s members in your family that you’re just a little rough on the edges with. ‘Lord, how do you want me to love them? Jesus, guide me in my approach to them, my attitude toward them. Give me your heart for them.’”
And going a step further, we could pray: “Lord, give me your love for my enemy.”
“Now that’s a bold prayer,” Father Voithofer said.
Bold prayer doesn’t always mean asking for big things.
It’s not just asking big, hard questions either, Father Voithofer said. “It’s asking God to be a part of everything in your life. Like, ‘Do we need to spend this money on a new car right now? What do you want us to do? What do you want?’
“I don’t think we like to do that because we want to be able to get what we want, when we want, how we want, whenever we want,” he said.
“It moves from I’m in control to actually God’s in control of my life. And do I believe that God’s got a better plan? Because if he does, why would I want to call the shots? I don’t think we realize how much we like to control our life.”
Some are afraid to ask boldly, Father Voithofer said, “because, what if nothing happens, or what if it’s not the way I want it to be?
“I think it’s important that people still ask boldly,” he said, “because … Jesus asks the Father boldly.”
“The Lord wants to ask the Father through my lips. Jesus wants to talk to our Father. That’s how we are woven and grafted into the family of the Trinity. Christ in me wants to bring to the Father what my eyes recognize each day.”
That could mean, for example, offering a prayer when you see an ambulance, because Jesus sees a soul in need, Father Voithofer said.
“Through our Baptism, we are Christ by grace. We are another Christ. That’s the whole point of Christmas, to become another Christ, because he’s born again in the manger of my heart, through the Holy Spirit.
“It’s really important for people to understand that Jesus, if you’re baptized, lives in us. If you’re born again, he can look through your eyes, serve with your hands, walk through your feet, care through your heart,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful truth of our faith. (St.) Paul talks about how, as the mystical Body of Christ, Christ lives in us.”
During Advent, hearts should prepare for Jesus’ coming “so that Christ can be born more fully through our humanity – Christ in me, Christ through me, to the world.”
Now that’s bold.